Visual Communication (AAS)

Program Description

The curriculum is rooted in a strong foundation of basic drawing and design skills, with classroom exercises providing practical and theoretical experience. Students develop strong skills and technical knowledge using a variety of software programs (based in the Adobe Creative Suite, which includes Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop), as well as experience with digital cameras, downloading images, scanning, printers and digital prepress considerations. Courses also develop skills for working in a team-based environment, as well as communication skills with supervisors, clients, writers, and other marketing and advertising professionals.

Students will learn basic skills applicable to career possibilities in graphic design, editorial design, production artist, illustration, photography and photo retouching, web design, digital prepress, etc.

Upon completion of the AAS degree, students will submit a portfolio of work for final approval by the faculty. Internship possibilities are available and have led to part-time and full-time employment for many alumni.

Students interested in a four-year Bachelor’s degree in a more specialized aspect of visual communication, should see the art curriculum listed in the Black Hawk College catalog under the Associate in Arts (AA) transfer degrees.


ArtFusion 2018 Cover ArtFusion Magazine
ArtFusion is produced every other year by and for the students of Black Hawk College. From essays to digital drawing to photography and painting, student works are featured throughout a professionally formatted and published magazine.

View the magazine as a flipbook.

Click here to download the most recent ArtFusion magazine.

Students who complete this program will be able to:

  • Basic drawing and design skills with a strong understanding of design principles and color theory, as applied to a variety of design related careers, such as graphic design, web design, illustration, photography, display design, etc.
  • Strong skills and technical knowledge in several Adobe Creative Suite programs, particularly InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Lightroom and Animate. Understanding of technical requirements for a variety of applications, such as digital prepress and print, photography and photo retouching, web publishing and digital applications.
  • Ability to work in a team environment exploring a variety of avenues to a project, while remaining flexible and open to concepts and applying critical thinking and problem solving skills.
  • Strong visual and verbal communication skills to convey design concepts to clients, supervisors, writers, printers and other marketing and advertising professionals.
  • Understanding and experience using a variety of equipment such as inkjet and laser printers, scanners, stylus tablets, digital cameras and studio lighting.
  • Digital and print portfolio demonstrating experience in designing print ads, brochures, logos and identity systems, information graphics, editorial publications, web graphics, posters, packaging design, etc.

Suggested Courses

Course (Credit Hours):

First Semester

ART 101 2-Dimensional Design (3)
ART 121 Drawing and Drawing Theory (3)
ART 215 Digital Imagery (3)
ART 230 Type and Digital Layout (3)
ART 281 History of Western Art I (3)
ART 290 Applications in Computer Art (3)

Second Semester

ART 111 3-Dimensional Design (3)
ART 122 Drawing and Drawing Theory (3)
ART 213 Digital Photography (3)
ART 217 Digital Drawing (3)
ART 246 Graphic Design or
ART 248 Production and Prepress (3)
CS 100 Introduction to Computers (3)

Third Semester

ART 201 Life Drawing (3)
BUSN 160 Business Math I (3)
COMM 100 Communication Skills or
ENG 101 Composition I (3)
PSYC 101 Introduction to Psychology (3)
SPEC 114 Interpersonal Communication (3)

Fourth Semester

ART 246 Graphic Design or
ART 248 Production and Prepress (3)
ART 282 History of Western Art II (3)
JOUR 221 Intro to Mass Communication or
BUSN 230 Prins of Marketing or
BUSN 236 Introduction to Advertising (3)


Two courses from any of the tracks below. Courses listed under each track are faculty recommendations based on a particular focus area. Students may tailor those selections based on their own needs.

Photography track:

ART 231 Darkroom Photography (3)
ART 232 The Photographic Series (3)

Illustration track:

ART 210 Introduction to Illustration (3)
ART 211 Painting (3)

Web Design track:

CIP 170 Web Page Development (3)
CIP 181 Advanced Web Page Development – Spring Only (3)

Minimum total hours required for degree: 66